9 Democrats who support a delay in the individual mandate as a response to Healthcare.gov website failures

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, October 24, 2013

As the problems with the Healthcare.gov website continue to prevent uninsured Americans from signing up, several Democrats are lining up in support of a delay in the individual mandate penalty that will be assessed on Americans without health insurance.

The deadline is currently set for March 31, 2013; however, some of the proposals being discussed would delay the implementation of the penalty for an additional year. Nonetheless, President Obama announced Wednesday that he has no intention of pushing back the March 31st date, even if the coverage for individuals doesn’t kick in until later.

Several of the Democrats listed have clear political motives behind their change of heart – Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Begich of Alaska and Jean Shaheen of New Hampshire, for example, are all up for re-election next year.

On the Republican side, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is currently pushing a bill to delay the penalty until the website’s technical glitches are worked out.

Below are nine Democrats willing to support a delay in the individual mandate penalty, in alphabetical order.

1. Rep. John Barrow (D-Georgia)

Rep. John Barrow Georgia

Barrow was the first House Democrat to push for a delay in the mandate.

“I’m proud to be a part of a bipartisan effort to reform the law by repealing the mandate that employers provide coverage they can’t afford, and the mandate that individuals buy insurance on their own,” he said on the House floor Wednesday.

“I urge my colleagues and the Administration to delay the individual mandate. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the only practical thing to do.”

2. Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska)

Mark Begich

The freshman senator, who is likely facing a tough re-election bid in 2014, has signaled that he will sign on to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-N.H.) proposal for a one-year delay of the penalty.

“I have repeatedly said this law is not perfect and have proposed changes to make it work for Alaska families and small businesses. That’s why I supported repealing the 1099 requirements and delaying the employer mandate,” he said, The Hill reports.

3. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-North Carolina)

North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan

The freshman senator, who is up for reelection next year, announced Thursday that she supports extending the enrollment period for two months and waiving the tax penalty for the same period in light of the website glitches.

“Everyone should be committed to making this work and making health care more affordable, and if that requires fixes, then we need to make those commonsense changes,” she said in a statement. “An extension would provide time to assess the extent of the problems and determine whether additional delays in the individual mandate are necessary. But frankly, the administration had plenty of time to get these websites user-ready, and I would like to keep the pressure on to get these problems fixed sooner rather than later so that North Carolina families can get online and shop for the plan that suits them best.”

4. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana)

Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu

Landrieu, who despite being a political legacy in the Bayou State faces a tough re-election bid in 2014, has signed onto the bill sponsored by New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

“I support extending the enrollment period to give people who haven’t had access or who want more choice enough time to shop from the 40 competitively priced plans in Louisiana’s marketplace. The administration should consider this common sense suggestion,” Landrieu said.

5. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia)

Sen. Joe Manchin

Manchin, who was elected to his first full term in 2012 after winning in a 2010 special election after the death of Sen. Robert Byrd, was one of the first conservative Democrats to step forth and support the delay. He is working on a bill that would put the delay in effect, a spokesman for his officeannounced Wednesday.

“Let’s work through the problems. We’ve got a lot of problems, they have been identified. I think everybody has recognized them. Let’s fix it. Let’s get together and fix things,” he told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly Tuesday night.

6. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-New Jersey)

New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell

Pascrell, a member of the Health subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, acknowledged Wednesday that he would be open to a “short delay” in the implementation of the penalty should the website’s problems drag on.

“If the problems are intense as they are this morning, then maybe we would have to consider a short delay in terms of the individual mandate,” he said, according to Yahoo! News. “I say, ‘maybe.’ I have a good feeling that we’re going to overcome these things.”

7. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado)

Jared Polis

Polis is a bit of an interesting case. While not in support of a full delay of the mandate, the Democrat – who represents several ski resort towns in the Centennial State – would like to see a waiver past that exempts some of his constituents from buying into the program because of the high premiums they face.

“We will be encouraging a waiver. It will be difficult for Summit County residents to become insured. For the vast majority, it’s too high a price to pay,” Polis said in an article posted Wednesday by the Colorado health policy website Solutions.

8. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas)

Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor

Pryor, a two-term conservative Democrat, has signed onto Shaheen’s bill pushing the mandate back by a year, a shrewd political move considering he is among the GOP’s top targets in 2014.

“I read Senator Shaheen’s letter today and support the common sense idea to extend the date for open enrollment.  I believe, given the technical issues, it makes sense to extend the time for people to sign up,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “In addition, the Administration should state clearly how the enforcement mechanism will work if people can’t sign up in time.  We all want to see the law work, and I hope the Administration will take a hard look at this reasonable suggestion.”

9. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire)

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen

Shaheen, who is up for re-election in 2014, was the first Democrat to publicly call for a delay in the mandate. She is currently writing her own bill that would push back the penalty’s implementation for a year; both Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) have already signed on to her legislation.

“Allowing extra time for consumers is critically important so they have the opportunity to become familiar with the website, survey their options and enroll,” she wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama earlier this week. “As website glitches persist, we are losing valuable time to educate and enroll people in insurance plans. I also fear that people that have tried, and failed, to enroll online may become frustrated and not return to the website to try again at a later date.”


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